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Plant Mol Biol. 1987 Sep;9(5):469-78. doi: 10.1007/BF00015878.

Plant gene expression in effective and ineffective root nodules of alfalfa (Medicago sativa).

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Laboratoire de Biologie Mol├ęculaire des Relations Plantes-Microorganismes, INRA-CNRS, BP 27, F-31326, Castanet-Tolosan Cedex, France.


Expression of plant genes involved in the symbiosis between alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and Rhizobium meliloti has been studied by comparing root and root nodule mRNA populations. Two-dimensional gel electrophoretic separation of the in vitro translation products of polyA(+) RNA isolated from either roots or effective root nodules has allowed us to identify thirteen nodule-specific translation products, including those corresponding to the leghemoglobins (Lb). These translation products, representing putative nodulin mRNAs, are first detected between 9 and 12 days after inoculation, a result which has been confirmed for Lb mRNA by Northern blotting and hybridization with a Lb cDNA probe. Analysis of three different types of ineffective root nodules arrested in different stages of development has led to the following conclusions. (i) The transcription of eleven nodule-specific genes, including the Lb genes, is independent of nitrogen-fixing activity. (ii) Differentiation of the primary nodule structure does not require the transcription of any of these genes but can be correlated with a dramatic reduction in the level of at least five transcripts present in the root. (iii) There is enhanced expression of certain plant genes in the case of nodules elicited by an Agrobacterium strain carrying the symbiotic plasmid of R. meliloti.


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